Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivational Factors in Today’s Military
These days, it is difficult for most to understand why people, especially younger adults with more options, decide to enlist in a branch of the United States military. Cries of “patriotism” or “to serve my country” only go so far—even the Pentagon’s own research shows that the amorphous duty to country only applies to a very small percentage of recent enlistees.
Very rarely is enlistment a more attractive alternative to jail. Instead, the largest majority of people who join the military do so for a variety of different reasons altogether. Economic pressure, lack of options in their community, the promise of US citizenship—the list of reasons is longer than ever. Call it disenfranchisement, or disingenuous design: today’s military is made up of people who were convinced that it was the right choice for them.
Presently, the United States has an all-volunteer military, having done away with compulsory service after the Vietnam Conflict. Filling the ranks of recruits is no easy task, and no slick sales or marketing campaigns—no matter how good the music is, or how cool the action looks—can force an individual to voluntarily put their life in harm’s way without some type of reward or compensation. So today’s military offers a competitive, attractive incentives program, including: salaries rivaling those of corporate America; benefits that far exceed that of almost any other employer; and housing/meal allowances for themselves and their dependents. Added to these are pay incentives for length of service, area of service, and type of service; as well as the opportunity to take part in special training or educational programs available nowhere else on the planet. This is why people are motivated to enlist in today’s military (Miles, 2006).
Motivation is a quintessential part of the military mind-set. From recruitment to training, our military relies on highly-motivated people to come together to become...